May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. In an effort to encourage safe riding this summer, the Wis. Dept. of Transportation, along with State Patrol, invited motorcycle owners to take part in a safety crash course at the Rock Co. fair grounds in Janesville.
"We want everyone who goes for a ride to come home safe," said Curtis Pierce, with the Goldwing Road Riders Association of Wis. The motorcycle organization is hosting its 18th annual "Tirekicking" in conjunction with the safety day. The motorcycle inspection event hosted the Wis. DOT's mobile rider education facility, called "THE REF" to promote safety among its members.
"It is a motorcycle simulator that allows you to test your skills in a simulated ride," Pierce said. "And then they give you a score on how well you did."
The idea is to teach people how to be proactive in preventing crashes--a necessary step in the Wis. DOT's "5=Zero" campaign. It's an initiative to achieve zero vehicle-related deaths within the next five years.
In 2012, there were nearly 800 deaths on Wisconsin's roadways. Approximately one in seven involved a motorcycle.
"The emphasis of motorcycle safety is tremendous in the state of Wis.," said state trooper AJ Llanas.
Llanas says last year was particularly bad for fatalities. That's why he and his motorcycle officers are also at Saturday's event, demonstrating what it looks like to be a smart rider.
"We're showing them how to safely maneuver their motorcycles at intersections, street lines and braking to avoid any collisions," Llamas said. "Helmet, coat, gloves, proper riding boots, proper riding pants, will increase your survival if someone strikes you or you have collision."
They are tips that will be especially important to remember as the weather warms up. Hundreds of thousands of bikers are expected to participate in the handful of motorcycle events going on this summer around the state. The most notable includes the 110th anniversary celebration of Harley Davidson in September.